Francis Wilkinson defends the father in High Court case about FGM and forced marriage allegations

16 December 2019

Family law expert Francis Wilkinson defended a father in lengthy High Court proceedings. The case included applications relating to forced marriage and female genital mutilation and other very serious allegations against him.

The court found that none of the contested matters were proved.  His child, who is the subject of the proceedings, remains living with the father.

Background to the case

The case concerned 2 children, K aged 31 months (the child of Francis’ client) and her aunt J, aged 11 years. In September 2018 K’s mother applied to protect K from female genital mutilation and for wardship to prevent her from being removed from the jurisdiction to carry out FGM. The case was complicated by the mother’s learning difficulties and Somali traditions around marriage.

K’s mother also sought orders protecting herself from further forced marriage. The respondents to the applications were Francis’ client - K’s father - and his mother, and the maternal grandparents. K was living with her father and her paternal grandmother at the time the applications were issued.

The mother made a wide-ranging series of allegations against the father, the paternal grandmother, the maternal grandparents and her brother. She claimed:

  • her parents caused her to undergo FGM when she was 17/18 years old and forced her to marry K’s father
  • her parents failed to protect her from sexual abuse by her brother
  • the maternal and paternal families sought to control her, her freedom to interact with professionals, and prevented her having care of or contact with K
  • K’s father made false allegations against her of sexual abuse
  • K’s father was violent to her during their marriage, including repeatedly raping her leading to pregnancy
  • K’s father was violent towards K.

None of those allegations was proved.  There were 9 parties to the case and the advocates included 4 Queen’s Counsel.

Read the full judgment.